Odd jobs – #1

My current job is the first one I feel pretty much satisfied with. I have been here for almost 8 months now and am quite certain my co-workers and supervisors are satisfied with my work. I get along well with everyone and look forward to every new day. I’m happy!

Before I landed my current job I had many different jobs. My first ever money-earning job was a summerjob I had at the age of thirteen. I worked on a farm, harvesting potatoes with several of my friends. It was fun. It was work we couldn’t really mess up, the weather was nice (mostly) and the company was the best. We had music playing in the background and I earned a small salary that bought me my first stereo. Life was simple and relaxed.

From that moment on, I pretty much always worked and all though it was seldomly inspiring work, each one had their interesting things and taught me valuable lessons that have made me who I am today.

The job where I worked the longest (almost 5 years) and where I met some of my best friends was at a health insurance company, where I worked as a helpdesk agent. Phonecalls, phonecalls, phonecalls, eternal phonecalls. No claim, deductible, premiums, declaration forms, policies, invoices, bayliffs, terms and conditions. How can I help you? Have I answered all your questions? No problem, I can explain it again, if you like. I know it’s complicated, let me try a different angle… Or maybe I need to speak slower? I hope this helped. Have a nice day!service03

It’s actually a miracle I ever even got to know my co-workers, as we only had a couple of minutes and sometimes seconds between one phonecall and the next.

The reason I stuck it out so long was that it paid reasonably well, that I could plan my hours flexibly and that my colleagues were great fun. A lot of young people worked there and the ones that weren’t were very young at heart. Fun, open people and awesome team leader, what more can a poor student ask for? Definitely better than waiting tables!!

And in hindsight I must say I did learn so much from that job. I learned that:

  • …being part of a team is a great feeling.
  • …for some people €30,- is a lot of money.
  • …an angry person calling is never angry at me.
  • …a day with more than two unpleasant conversations usually says more about my state of mind than theirs.
  • …you can make a difference, by just listening. This doesn’t mean giving them their way, but if you manage to give the person on the other side the feeling that they have been heard, that’s just as good (or better!).
  • …there is always room for exceptions.
  • …complaining does pay off (sometimes).
  • …some people are just ass holes, and that’s fine.
  • …I can handle any conversation.

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I was planning on walking you through my entire CV but I just realized I might as well make it into a series of blogs. This way I can discuss the different jobs I had, without it being too overwhelming. I want to highlight the valuable lessons that I took from them and explain how they influence my life today.

Any one of you ever work in customer service?


The cleaning habits of “high potentials”

“On sunny days, the city’s high potentials gather in great numbers and nip from their little cups of wine, talk about their exams and grades, about racism and the semantics of sexism and traveling to Nepal or other places with poor people they could help out during socially aware holidays.”

Sunday in the Vondelpark. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This is a translated quote from an article I read a couple of weeks ago. It’s a scene that takes places every time the sun comes out in Holland and in this specific case the author witnessed it in a park in Utrecht, all though it could be anywhere really. She described how the park turned into a society of its own, with segregation of upper and lower class and every one trying to defend their status in some way or other.

And then the she hits us with some truth:

As the so called high potentials go home they leave behind scorch marks and a spectacular amount of litter in the grass. Cleaning up is something high potentials apparently only do in poor countries these days.

She describes the war zone of trash behind for the cleaners to pick up and how it reflects on our society as a whole. She interviews some of these cleaners, who describe how people throw trash in front of their feet while they are sweeping and assuming they are doing them a favor that way.

Talking about saving the world and totally disregard this when it comes to the scene right in front of them is painful to witness, and I may even be guilty myself up to a certain degree… I traveled abroad and did volunteer work with rural communities in Ecuador. I helped set up classes about preserving the environment through recycling and sustainable gardening. In all honesty my recycling habits back home are quite deplorable, all though I do try…

Reminds me of a blog I wrote many years ago, when I guess I still considered myself a high potential, despite not having the career moves to back that up. The blog was a short analysis of a short story (so yes, this is a paragraph about a blog about a story from a book 😛 ) in which a girl is offered deliverance from her guilt of being a westerner.

So I guess it’s up to me to start with the gal in the mirror! How about you?